Equity in all Policies - Especially, Transportation
September 30, 2018
In 2016, the City of Columbia adopted a new strategic plan, focused on social equity.
Unlike “equality,” the concept of “equity” recognizes the differing needs of different people as well as historical injustices that perpetuate disparities today. The goal of this strategic plan, unanimously supported by the City Council, was to make Columbia a place where “all families cannot only live ... but thrive.” To get started, we identified three neighborhoods where residents face the greatest challenges, and adjusted our budget priorities to implement community-oriented policing and fix infrastructure deficiencies, among other interventions.
The results have been excellent so far. These neighborhoods have experienced lower crime, improved street lighting and sidewalks, low-income housing investment, and increased citizen satisfaction. Residents of these areas have been empowered, they are better able to contribute to society and to the local economy, and we are making progress in our 2016-19 Strategic Plan.
Unfortunately, City Council took a step back earlier this month (in my view) by approving severe budget cuts to our public transit service, despite testimony from dozens of residents about the devastating impact this action would have on their lives. Some of these residents are blind, others have physical and cognitive disabilities, while many more cannot afford to own a car.
In an article in today's Tribune, also published on my web site, I present the background to the cuts, explain why this decision directly counteracts the City’s “social equity” strategy, and propose an alternative approach rooted in the idea that the City budget is a moral document.
Looking ahead to 2019, City Council is starting to discuss our next strategic plan. I will be advocating for an over-arching philosophy of "Equity in all Policies."
My next Constituent Conversations will be held on Sunday October 14th, 2-4pm at Dunn Bros. Coffee. Upcoming dates are always available at my web site.